17-03-2018

Singapore’s barging operations could change in 2020: bunker supplier

The advent of a global sulfur cap could change barging operations in Singapore. Come 2020, Singapore barge operators may have to install separate pipes and mass flow meters for different types of marine fuel or they may need to have dedicated barges for a single grade, a bunker supplier said an industry event Thursday.

“It’s not clear yet what the split of fuel is going to be in 2020,” Fratelli Cosulich’s CEO Timothy Fratelli said at the Asia Pacific Maritime conference in Singapore. “A realistic scenario is that there will still be heavy fuel, marine gasoil and few types of ultra low sulfur fuel oil, which are not necessarily compatible amongst each other.”

A member from the audience had asked how Singapore barge owners will operate when the International Maritime Organisation’s global sulfur limit of 0.5% for marine fuels comes into force in January 2020.

“Right now, if you’re a relatively efficient barge operator, you can turn around your barges more or less nine times per month, which is a good utilisation; [it] also allows you as a barge operator to offer relatively competitive offers to a couple of players,” Cosulich said.

However, this current operating model could evolve as IMO’s global sulfur regulation looms. While there could be more sulfur compliant fuels in 2020 and beyond, the fuels may not be compatible and have to be kept segregated to avoid contamination, Cosulich said.

If this is the case, Cosulich envisages Singapore barge operators will assign barges to deliver only a certain grade, or install separate pipes and flow meters on their bunker tankers.

“[But], this will bring utilization down for barge operators and increase the barging costs,” he said.

Cosulich said he could not speak for how other Singapore bunker suppliers were getting ready for the impending global sulfur cap, but his company was focused on “having the right number of barges to accommodate any request we receive from cargo players.”

Fratelli Cosulich Bunkers acquired a bunker tanker earlier this month, taking its total bunker barge fleet in Singapore to seven, of which four are owned by the company, and three are chartered.

The company was ranked 25th biggest bunker supplier in Singapore last year, up from 30th in 2016, data from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore showed.

Source: Platts

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